The bright ideas that keep the world evolving

The birth of a Finn-Dorset lamb in 1996, marked a big step forward in scientific developments globally.

This animal was no ordinary sheep but became known as Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.

Scientists Sir Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell were the ones who developed the cloning process and published patents on it in January 2000. This intellectual property allowed them to have the right to prevent anyone else from using their process for a period of time.

To be patented, an invention must be something that can be made or used and also must be new and inventive. The cloning process is one of Britain's great ideas and inventions. Here are some others.

Waterproof material

In 1823, Charles Macintosh patented a waterproof fabric now used in coats and other products. The chemist dissolved rubber in coal-tar naphtha and stuck two pieces of fabric together with it to create the invention.

Synthetic dye

18 year-old William Henry Perkin accidentally discovered how to make a purple dye in the laboratory at the Royal College of Chemistry. While clearing up chemicals using alcohol after failed experiments to make quinine, he noticed that a purple colour had developed. As natural dyes were expensive, this was a key breakthrough. He filed a patent in 1856 and set up a dye factory.

Electric vacuum cleaner

Engineer Hubert Cecil Booth was determined to invent an electric sucking vacuum cleaner after witnessing a machine that didn't work. He achieved his goal using a suction pump, a tube and dust collector. He patented the invention in 1901.


John Logie Baird from Scotland beat competitors to televise moving images. He did this in 1926 during a demonstration at the Royal Institution. He patented his work.

Jet engine

Coventry's Sir Frank Whittle, a trained pilot and engineer saw the value of an aircraft that could fly at great height and speed. He researched ways to achieve this with a gas turbine. Whittle patented the first turbo-jet engine in 1930 and ran the first test in 1937.

The Worldwide Web

Brit Tim Berners Lee devised the Worldwide web in 1989 to help people share information, which gave birth to the internet. However, he didn't patent his invention as he wanted everyone to use it.

Have you got a bright idea? The Intellectual Property Regulation Board can point you in the right direction - just take a look at the Got an idea? area on their website.

You can also visit our page on: I want to protect my idea.